Zahar Martin has always had a passion for cars, so when the opportunity arose for him to apply for a graduate role in the automotive industry, he jumped on it. Especially since the role would focus on HR, his major throughout his double degree in business and government and international relations.

He’d previously applied for a few other graduate programs, but none had quite appealed to him in the way the chance to work at Inchcape, the company behind brands such as Subaru Australia, Trivett and Peugeot Citroen, did.

“I am actually quite passionate about the Subaru brand, I’ve owned a few Subarus and I am into the car industry,” he explains. Rather than responding to a job ad, he had actually looked into the company of his own volition. “I was interested in the industry so I looked them up. It was just coincidence they had the Inchcape graduate program open at the time.”

“As much as I’d applied for other graduate positions, this was the industry I wanted to be in, so I put more effort into my application,” the Griffith University graduate says.

He flew to Sydney for an interview and a rigorous testing process that included psychometric, reading and numeracy tests, as well as a 10-minute presentation on industry issues.

He attributes his success to a number of experiences he had while studying at Griffith. “I was a member of the GBS Student Leadership program, and GERMS [Griffith Employment Relations Management Society] as well as undertaking both a global and local internship,” Zahar says.

“I think the global internship was incredible for my resume but also for the experience I got,” the HR specialist says. “I went to Germany and worked for one of the leading energy companies in Europe, then worked at a recruitment consulting organisation through the domestic internship and that experience allowed me to get my foot in the door.

“Both internships benefited me in not only getting the job but also in being able to work objectively, and take learnings from those internships into the workplace. Things like how to act, to fit in with new and different cultures,” he explains.

Since starting in his new role, Zahar relocated to Sydney full time and must work in a number of different departments within Inchcape before he settles into his HR position.

He says the graduate program is one of the most extensive programs out there, ensuring employees have a turn at working in departments outside of their specialty so they get a thorough understanding of all the business’s challenges.

“I don’t think there is any other automotive graduate program that gives this level of exposure to so many different departments,” he says. Although it’s a far cry from his HR department goal, the Trivett dealership is where Zahar currently works and he says this particular rotation has given him excellent insight into how to implement policies in the department in the future.

“It gives me a lot more hands-on knowledge about the level of competency someone needs to be able to operate effectively in a retail environment,” he explains. “It’s such a versatile business that it really is crucial to understand what the departments go through and the issues they face in order to do a corporate job properly and effectively.” When he finishes in sales, he will head into marketing, and so on, until he’s done the rounds in the company.

Zahar says that his time at Griffith played a crucial role in him landing such a prized position. “Griffith Business School adequately prepared me in a professional work history sense, but also in terms of knowledge for the grad program I am in at the moment,” he says. “As well as the degree knowledge, the internships and leadership program have benefited me and provided me with well rounded skills to be able to perform at my best in the graduate position in terms of core skills, teamwork and leadership skills.

“I’ve had really positive evaluations since I started this new role and I definitely believe that’s because of Griffith University and the exposure to real employment they provided me through my internships, the skills I learnt in the leadership program, and the high level of education they delivered.”